For Solomon and For Us
Monday of Pentecost 11
21 August 2017
Solomon is a type of Christ. Yes, but a poor type. His early career was attended by the attainment of spectacular wisdom. Unfortunately, this gift of human wisdom did not certify his long-term spiritual discernment. While he could demand that the baby be split in half to discern how the rival claimants to the child would react, he seemed to be incapable of distinguishing between statecraft and the religion of Yahweh. When he cemented alliances with polygamous marriages to foreign wives, he also imported their gods, which eventually wormed their ways into the temple Solomon had built for the only God, the God of his fathers. Solomon was only a type in very small and insignificant ways, namely that he built a temple for the name of the Lord God and that he was the anointed one. He was certainly not a type of Christ in his polygamy, his toleration of idolatry, or the abominable desecration he worked upon the same house he had offered God. The gap between Solomon and Christ is the gap between man and God. Solomon could only be a pitiful sign. Christ was the final and complete fulfillment of the messianic hope.
It is no wonder then that Augustine had very little use for finding in Solomon much that was typical of his future heir and son, Christ. This is all the more remarkable when we consider how deeply committed Augustine was to the allegorical interpretation of the Old Testament. In God's promise to King David there was to be a King who would sit upon the messianic throne forever. 'When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son' (2Sa 7:12-14). Such a King could not have been Solomon. Solomon sat upon the throne of Israel during his father's reign, he did not build an everlasting house for God, he did not have an eternal reign. And most plainly, Solomon was not God's Son.
Solomon's worthlessness is deeply disappointing to us because God gave him great wisdom. However, this clarifies certain things to us. First, mere human wisdom does not assure of spiritual faithfulness. God makes fools of those who depend on their wisdom, even God-given wisdom, by emptying the confidence they have in their own smarts. God laughs to scorn their much-vaunted wisdom by taking the form of a servant in Christ, who became obedient to death, even the death of the cross by emptying Himself of divine power. Human pride and unbelief in Solomon makes it even more essential that God redeem His fallen, prideful, and blasphemous children. Even the world's wisest man needs divine rescue. How much more do we? Second, only God from God is capable of saving wise-acres like us. Only by the incarnation of Christ in Mary could God redeem all our solomonic spiritual foolishness. He takes us and builds us into an eternal house for the name of God, in which He is the suffering and bleeding King of Kings. Our inglorious King buys us back to the church, together with all the disappointed and disappointing people like Solomon. Here is perhaps the greatest contrast between Solomon and the true King. Solomon was glorious and powerful. Christ the King was humble and weak. For Solomon and for us.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Augustine of Hippo

"He who thinks this grand promise (2Sa 7:8-16) was fulfilled in Solomon greatly errs. He pays attention to the saying, 'He shall build me a house,' but he does not attend to the saying, 'His house shall be faithful, and his kingdom for evermore before me.' Let him therefore attend and behold the house of Solomon full of strange women worshiping false gods, and the king himself, too soon wise, seduced by them, and cast down into the same idolatry. Let him not dare to think that God either promised this falsely, or was unable to foreknow that Solomon and his house would become what they did. But we ought not to be in doubt here, or to see the fulfillment of these things save in Christ our Lord, who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh (Rm 1:3), lest we should vainly and uselessly look for some other here, like the carnal Jews. For even they understand this much, that the son whom they read of in that place as promised to David was not Solomon, so that, with wonderful blindness to Him who was promised and is now declared with so great manifestation, they say they hope for another.
"Indeed, even in Solomon there appeared some image of the future event, in that he built the temple, and had peace according to his name (for Solomon means 'peaceful'), and in the beginning of his reign was wonderfully praiseworthy. But while, as a shadow of Him that should come, he foreshowed Christ our Lord, he did not also in his own person resemble Him. Therefore, some things concerning him are so written as if they were prophesied of himself, while the Holy Scripture, prophesying even by events, somehow delineates in him the figure of things to come. For, besides the books of divine history, in which his reign is narrated, Psalm 72 also is inscribed in the title with his name, in which so many things are said which cannot at all apply to Solomon, but which apply to the Lord Christ with such evident aptness that makes it quite apparent that in Solomon the figure is in some way shadowed forth, but in Christ the truth itself is presented. For it is known within what bounds the kingdom of Solomon was enclosed; and yet in that psalm, not to speak of other things, we read, 'He will rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth' (Ps 72:8), which we see fulfilled in Christ. Truly, He took the beginning of His reigning from the river where John baptized. For, when pointed out by him, He began to be acknowledged by the disciples, who called Him not only Master, but also Lord.
"Nor was it for any other reason that, while his father David was still living, Solomon began to reign, which happened to none other of their kings, except that from this also it might be clearly apparent that it was not himself this prophecy spoken to his father signified beforehand, saying, 'And it shall come to pass when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shall sleep with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will prepare His kingdom.' How, therefore, shall it be thought on account of what follows, 'He shall build me a house,' that this Solomon is prophesied, and not rather be understood on account of what precedes, 'When thy days be fulfilled, and you sleep with your fathers, I will raise up you seed after you,' that another peaceful One is promised, who is foretold as about to be raised up, not before David's death, as he was, but after it? For however long the interval of time might be before Jesus Christ came, beyond doubt it was after the death of King David, to whom He was so promised, that He would come who would build a house of God, not of wood and stone, but of men such as we rejoice He does build. For to this house, that is, to believers, the apostle says, 'The temple of God is holy, whose temple you are' (1Co 3:17)."

Augustine, The City of God, 17.8
2 Samuel 7:1-16

Now when the king lived in his house and the LORD had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, the king said to Nathan the prophet, "See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent." And Nathan said to the king, "Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you."
But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, "Go and tell my servant David, 'Thus says the LORD: Would you build me a house to dwell in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling. In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, "Why have you not built me a house of cedar?"'
Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.'" (ESV)
Lord God, You built a house for Your Name by the ministry of Christ, who as our King became obedient to death for us. Grant that we might live in peace and quietness in the church, which He bought with His precious blood. Keep us from being deceived by our own wisdom, that You might call us back to the foolishness of the cross, where the true power and wisdom lies hidden. Amen.
For President Matthew Harrison of the LCMS, that God would direct Him through the divine Word to support the faith of the weakness of Christ
For Brenda Blackwell, that the Lord would grant her strength in body and soul
For Pr. Scott Murray, in thanksgiving to God for the gifts of the holy ministry on the 34th anniversary of his ordination, that the Lord of the church would continue to strengthen him unto His service
Art: Albrecht DURER,  The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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